Archive for Reviews

Monster Heroes — Review

Over four stories, Hoena and Bardin introduce young monsters who “wanted to be like superheroes and save the day.” There’s Will, a shy but brave ghost; Mina, a beet-juice-drinking vampire; Linda, a kindly witch; and Brian, a quick-thinking zombie who prefers tofu to brains. The stories are essentially identical: each of the four runs into trouble with members of his or her own kind (mean ghosts try to haunt new residents in town, Mina’s parents plan to take a bite out of their dinner guests) and the friends swoop in to help, but Hoena’s playful sense of humor and Bardin’s Cartoon Network–ready illustrations keep these three-chapter stories quick moving and entertaining.
—Publishers Weekly

Monster Heroes — Review

Four good-hearted monsters repeatedly save the day by concocting clever ways to foil the schemes of their evil families and schoolmates.

Their challenges range from getting the residents of Hill House (“across from Shirley Jackson’s tomb”) to laugh rather than scream at a trio of ectoplasmic pranksters to saving the Plasma family after vampire neighbors issue an invitation to…dinner. Happily, Will, Mina, Brian, and Linda—respectively, a shy ghost, a vampire who prefers beet juice to blood, a brainy zombie, and a curse-reversing witch — rise to every challenge by putting their heads and magical powers together. Bardin adds a zany element to the well-leaded narrative with daffy cartoon illustrations… Hoena tucks sufficient tongue-in-cheek references into the narrative to keep older readers amused, should they happen upon the book.

—Kirkus Reviews

The Muffin Man—Review

9781632903648_int01From the Tangled Tunes series of Cantata Learning, “The Muffin Man” is a delightful storybook/music/CD combo package that sets the scene for the song story about “The Muffin Man,” who bakes and sells delicious muffins, and lives on Drury Lane. Bright, comical, stylized illustrations reminiscent of the 50’s and 60’s decorate each page of treasured song lyrics, encouraging children to imagine the tale themselves as they hear and sing along with the song. A funny brown dog named Cupcake accompanies the Muffin Man throughout his day, cleaning up stray crumbs and spills with hilarious efficiency, and shepherding the baker home from his shop when the day is done.
—Children’s Bookwatch

The Muffin Man — Review

9781632903648_cvrMost adults know the muffin man by now, but many will have never heard the story in quite this way! Author Blake Hoena has given the intrepid baker and his beloved Drury Lane bakery a new daily routine, turning the Muffin Man into an early riser who makes a wide variety of muffins to tempt the passers-by. At the end of the day, the store is empty and everyone is happy. This cute picture book is written in such a way that every page can be sung to the melody of the classic children’s song; in fact, the book even includes a CD featuring a recording of the full song, complete with toe-tappingly catchy music. Illustrations by Luke Flowers are delightfully cartoony, full of bright colors, and young readers will be smiling along with the people in the book as they go through every page. This is a fun addition to the library of any young reader . . . Great for the preschool crowd.

—San Francisco Book Review

Review — Everything Soccer

Colorful, fascinating, and timely, this book on soccer is true to National Geographic’s reputation for excellent coverage. Non-soccer fans, whose numbers are diminishing, will enjoy this addition to the “Everything Series” for National Geographic Kids. It is an educational romp. With more than 100 pictures, interesting history about the game’s origins, and information about the worldwide coverage of superstar players, coaches, and their territories, this book will ensure that readers’ eyes do not wander. The picture book size is bold, illustrations are numerous, and the information is massive. Definitions, maps, addresses for soccer websites, and a photographic diagram of “The Pitch” (i.e., the playing area for international games) are provided. Altogether, this keeps the pressure on to keep on… reading. In 2015 the Women’s World Cup will be played in Canada, and the world again will be watching. To be in the know about soccer language and rules, place this book in your school library and your backpack.
—Children’s Literatures

Review — Everything Dinosaurs

The introduction presents some dinosaur “what if”s: What if dinosaurs had not become extinct? What was the world really like with dinosaurs roaming around? Dr. Paul Sereno, a paleontologist, helps to answer these questions through his research. In “Explorer’s Corner” sidebars throughout the book, Dr. Sereno provides extra information from his worldwide expeditions. The four chapters cover everything from “dinosaurs rule” to “fun with dinos.” Colored illustrations and sidebars complement the text. Young readers will learn how dinosaurs first evolved as well as how they became extinct. An “Afterword” explores why we are still interested in dinosaurs. An interactive glossary tests the reader’s knowledge with four definition options for each term. Correct answers are provided at the bottom of the page. A “Find Out More” section provides “Dino Documentaries,” “Dino-riffic Reads,” a list of related websites, and information about places to visit to learn more about these creatures. An index allows easy navigation through the text. This book is part of the “National Geographic Kids ‘Everything’” series, which covers an extensive number of topics for young readers. This book would be an excellent addition to supplement the science curriculum and will open the world of dinosaurs for young readers.
—Children’s Literature

Reveiw — Everything Mythology

In Everything Mythology, Blake Hoena and Adrienne Mayor introduce readers to a colorful and fearful world that is not entirely foreign. This book is filled with stories of Gods, Goddesses, Heroes, Monsters, revenge, love, hate, trickery and so much more. As readers and listeners journey into the world of Mythology they will quickly find characters they are familiar with in today’s world—including super heroes, wizards, princesses and characters from some favorite books. Short stories and facts are accompanied by vibrant illustrations that will engage readers. Hoena and Mayor include a map to help readers place the stories in a geographical context. This book is a great steppingstone into mythology for young readers. Each mythical story builds upon the next and soon readers will understand where terms like “Pandora’s box” and “Achilles’ heel” come from. Hoena and Mayor did an effective job at keeping the facts and stories short and understandable. All these elements lend to an educated introduction to Mythology. This book is highly recommended for use by parents with young readers who want to know the backstories of their favorite modern day heroes.
—Children’s Literature

Review — Everything Mythology & Dinosaurs

With more than 100 full-color illustrations these titles are visual treats, while providing a good deal of content. Each features four main sections with two-page chapters within those sections concentrating on specific topics. Within “Dinosaur Life,” for instance, readers will find spreads on the “Dino Nursery,” “Growing Up Dinosaur,” “Chomp or Be Chomped,” and “The Plant Eaters.” The layouts include headlines, text boxes, illustrations, and quick facts. Mythology even offers an Olympus Family Tree and isn’t limited to the gods of the Greek pantheon. Anansi, Horus, and Ganesha are all at home in these pages. The books are not only easy to read and understand, they’re also fun. Each volume includes a glossary (with an accompanying quiz to increase comprehension) and sources for more information (books, websites). Good purchases where these subjects are much in demand.
—School Library Journal

Review — Everything Dinosaurs

The latest in the Everything series will certainly appeal to young dinosaur enthusiasts. Illustrations rule here, even though, as the text mentions, scientists aren’t sure about the color, shape, and texture of most dinosaurs. Tempesta’s illustrations present dinos of all sizes and dimensions, like the Mamenchisaurus, whose neck was 35 feet long. These pictures provide a sense of drama and danger, though the fainthearted should take note that several images depict ravenous dinosaurs feasting rather bloodily upon others. Hoena packs in a lot of facts, ranging from one-sentence “Dino Bites” to fieldwork insights from paleontologist Sereno. One intriguing section discusses how dinosaurs cared for their young and shows fossils of the long, thin eggs of meat-eating dinosaurs; the bowling-ball-sized Diplodocus eggs; and the spiral patterns that some dinosaurs used to organize their eggs. The book doesn’t delve very deeply, but like the dinosaurs, it covers a lot of ground.


Review — Treasure Island

Fun to see my Treasure Island adaptation up on LitPick, a site where kids (my readers!) are the reviewers. Check it out Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island.